A low door on the opposite side of the Chapel of the Angels leads to the tiny Chapel of the Holy Sepulchre, which contains the tomb of Christ itself. This is the 14th Station of the Cross and the holiest site in Christendom. Here a marble slab covers the place where the body of Christ was laid and from which he rose from the dead.
Only four people are allowed in at a time. I was lucky to be there alone during several seconds.
The vase of candles marks the place where his head was. The banner behind it varies with the liturgical seasons: this one is after Easter and says "Christ is Risen –Hristos voskres (in Russian)."
Sorry for a bad picture from the Chapel...
The Chapel of the Angels is the first of two small rooms inside the Edicule. This altar contains a stone believed to be part of the large stone that was rolled away from Christ's tomb on Easter morning. The archway in the back leads to the Tomb of Christ itself.
You can watch my 3 min 16 sec HD Video Jerusalem Church of the Holy Sepulchre Chapel of the Angel and Holy Sepulcher Chapel out of my Youtube channel.
The Tomb of Christ itself is enshrined in a large, boxy shrine, referred to as the Edicule (or Kuvuklia for Eastern Christians). It is located underneath the large dome of the Rotonda.
The original IV-th century shrine constructed under Constantine is believed to be destroyed by the sultan Hakim in the XI-th century. In the XVI-th century another shrine was built by the Franciscan friar Bonifacio da Ragusa. But it was destructed in the severe fire of 1808.
The current structure was built in 1809-10 on money of the Russian Imperator Alexander I in shapes of the Kuvuklia which is located in New Jerusalem near Moscow.
You will see the Chapel of the Angel and the Holy Sepulcher Chapel inside the Edicule.
The round area of the church is known as the Rotunda or Anastasis. It preserves the location and shape, and a few original columns, of Constantine's IV-th-century Church of the Resurrection built on the site of Christ's tomb.
The Rotunda is surmounted by a large dome, completed in the 1960s. It is decorated with a 12-pointed star whose rays symbolize the outreach of the 12 apostles. The diameter of the dome is about 20 meters; the height is 34 meters.
You will see there the Edicule with the Tomb Christ, the Coptic Chapel where a piece of the tomb of Christ is located and the Syrian Chapel.
You can watch my 5 min 18 sec HD Video Jerusalem Church of the Holy Sepulchre Rotunda and Edicule out of my Youtube channel.
You will see a mosaic depicting Christ's anointing for burial decorates the outer wall of the Catholicon behind the Stone of Unction.
To enter the Armenian Shrine or Place of the Three Marys (Armenian Orthodox) you have to turn left from the entrance hall where the Stone of Unction and the Mosaic Wall are located.
First thing you will see when enter the Church is the Stone of Unction which is located just a few steps after the entrance into the Church. It commemorates the preparation of Jesus' body for burial. This limestone slab dates from 1808, when the prior XII-th-century slab was destroyed. Ownership of this site has varied over the centuries, but it now belongs to the four main Christian religions: Armenians, Copts, Greeks and Latins.
Pilgrims (mostly women) meditates on the death of Christ at the Stone of Unction.
You will also see the opulent lamps that hanging over the stone slab.
You can watch my 3 min 07 sec HD Video Jerusalem Church of the Holy Sepulchre Stone of Unction out of my Youtube channel.
The east wall of the Church has a small domed structure which attracts attention when you are standing at the Entrance court. It was once the XII-th-century Crusader entrance to the Church on Calvary. It later became the Chapel of the Franks.
Now it is believed to be the 10th Station of the Cross.
The exterior facade and the main entrance to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre look magnificent. They are located on the east side of the Church.
The exterior facade is believed to be built by the Crusaders in the XII-th century. A double arcade with frieze at both levels are each surmounted by a cornice. The right entrance door is blocked by Muslims after the Crusaders were defeated.
The truncated Crusader Bell Tower is to the left of the entrance.
The atrium or the entrance court is open areas in front of the main entrance where pilgrims gather before entering the Church. You can get there from the west side. Have a rest there and admire several buildings around the court.
You’ll see Greek Chapels in the north side of the court, the Greek Monastery of Abraham, the Armenian Chapel of St. James and the Coptic Chapel of St. Michael the Archangel in the south side of the court.
To my great surprise it wasn’t overcrowded when I was there on Sunday evening of Western Easter and on Monday and Tuesday of Eastern Easter week.
You can watch my 2 min 22 sec HD Video Jerusalem Church of the Holy Sepulchre Entrance Court out of my Youtube channel.
The Stations X through XIV are located inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
The Tenth Station - where Jesus was stripped of His garments.
The Frankish Chapel in the Facade of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The spur of Calvary today lies within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. When you enter the main door of the church a stairway on your right takes you to the spot where Jesus faced the death sentence. A great part of the platform of Calvary rests on an infrastructure. Only the eastern part rests directly onto the rock. The Tenth Station is located at the beginning of the nave on the right.
The Eleventh Station - where Jesus was nailed to the Cross.
The altar of the Nailing to the Cross. This Latin nave was restored in 1937 by A. Barluzzi. The altar of silvered bronze is a gift of Ferdinand I de Medici. It is claimed to be the work of the Dominican Domenico Portigiani (1588) and was originally meant for the Stone of Unction. The altar panels represent the scenes of the Passion.
The Twelfth Station - where Jesus died on the Cross.
The altar of the Crucifixion. Tradition places the erection of the cross and the death of Jesus in the eastern part of the nave on the left. A silver disk with a central hole, underneath the Greek Orthodox altar, marks the spot where the Cross stood. The site of the crucifixion has been fixed since Constantine's time when at this site he had erected a wooden cross replaced in 417 by the Emperor Theodosius II with another cross made of gold and precious stones.
The Thirteenth Station - where Jesus was taken down from the Cross.
Coming down from Calvary, on the way to the Holy Sepulchre, in front of the main entrance of the Church, lies what has become known as the Stone of the Unction. In Jerusalem the scene of the taking down from the Cross was usually linked to that of the anointing, and located to the west of Calvary on the spot where, before the Crusaders, stood the Chapel of Saint Mary. The spot of the Anointing has been venerated since the end of the 13th century. The stone covers the rock on which the body of Jesus would have rested. Early pilgrims described this stone as black, green or white. Today it consists of a red polished block.
The Fourteenth Station - where Jesus was laid in the Sepulchre.
The actual sepulchral chamber is a small and awe-inspiring candle-lit space. A marble slab, laid there in 1555 by Fr. Boniface of Ragusa, Franciscan Guardian of Mount Sion, protects the rock of the tomb. Over the tomb, there are a great number of silver lamps, which belong to the three Christian denominations who share the property of the tomb: Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Armenian Orthodox. It is here that Christ completed His earthly mission before His glorious Resurrection in accordance with the prophecies.
To the rear of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is the Ethiopian Monastery (when coming out of the main doors of the Holy Sepulchre, turn left, through the archway as if following the Stations of the Cross, turn left again and, on your left hand side are steps leading up - head up these stairs and follow the alleyway until you reach a grey door on your left hand side prior to entering the Coptic entrance back into the Holy Sepulchre). Alternatively, if open, the door to the right of the main entrance will take you through a small, dark chapel and onto the Monastery itself.
The Ethiopian monks have lived among the ruins of the cloister erected by the Crusaders on the original site of Constantine's basilica since they were forced out of the main church by the Copts. Personally, I think it is one of the most atmospheric of all the Christian sites in the Old City. It is a relatively small compound, with a small chapel built into the walls of the Holy Sepulchre. If you are in the city during Easter celebrations, it's a wonderful environment to be in.
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is yet another location where people believe that Jesus may have been buried. Located in the Christian Quarter this dark and foreboding church attracts many tourists despite the fact most historians dispute the validity of its claim as Christs burial place. That aside it still is a interesting place to visit as many different factions of the Christian faith have a stake in the church and its interesting to see the various forms of worship from within the church. As with most of the sites in the Old City there is not admission fee.
Visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, not that there is anything special to see here, but this is to believe the place were Jesus was crucified as well as to some believe the place where he is berried.
This church was built in 335 by the Roman Emperor Constantine, and added to by the Crusaders.
It is on the site where it is believed Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected.
Inside the church is very dark, in fact there are around 36 different "churches" inside the one huge building. Catholics, Orthodox, Copts, Armenians, Ethiopians... all have their own sites within and it reflects the varied nature of those living within Jerusalem over time.
When we visited, there were masses of people, very crowded inside and out, difficult to get good views and close up to some of the historic items, such as the slab where they laid Jesus' body. Things like that are covered in any event and some items protected by bulletproof glass. Ah yes, Jerusalem.
Around the corner from the entrance and basically in the middle of the building, is a tall wooden structure - it houses the Holy Sepulchre (burial chamber). Count on a line of people waiting to pay their respects at this most venerated site - it's worth it.
When you get inside, you'll find what is considered to be the stone upon which Christ was laid out inside the burial chamber. Of course it's since been covered by a slab of marble which is to protect the holy stone from being vandalized with graffiti or chipped at by some fanatic.
Interestingly enough, on the other side of this wooden structure that holds the sepulchre, are the Copts who claim part of the tomb and guard it lovingly. I’ve visited here three times over a six year span and have seen this same priest twice, which is actually not unusual. It is after all, a very small and insular world there. Anyways it’s tradition to both leave a small donation for the Copts (the poorest and smallest of the Christian faiths, and also one of the very oldest) after kneeling down and kissing the wall of the tomb.